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NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

NASA scientists claim the new revelations could help them better understand the interior structure and evolution of Mars

Access Mars
Google collaborated with NASA to produce Access Mars that lets users wander the actual dunes and valleys explored by NASA's Curiosity rover.. Wikimedia

Washington, Septemeber 15, 2017 : Mars’s crust is not as dense as previously thought and a lower density likely means that at least part of the Red Planet’s crust is relatively porous, says a new NASA study.

The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, provide researchers clue that could help them better understand the interior structure and evolution of Mars.

“The crust is the end-result of everything that happened during a planet’s history, so a lower density could have important implications about Mars’s formation and evolution,” said study lead author Sander Goossens of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The researchers mapped the density of the Martian crust, estimating the average density is 2,582 kgs per metre cubed. That’s comparable to the average density of the lunar crust.

Typically, Mars’s crust has been considered at least as dense as Earth’s oceanic crust, which is about 2,900 kgs per metre cubed.

The new value is derived from Mars’s gravity field, a global model that can be extracted from satellite tracking data using sophisticated mathematical tools.

Previous estimates relied more heavily on studies of the composition of Mars’s soil and rocks.

ALSO READ NASA Mars rover to Study an ancient fluid-carved valley incised on the inner slope of a vast crater’s r

“As this story comes together, we’re coming to the conclusion that it’s not enough just to know the composition of the rocks,” study co-author Greg Neumann, a planetary geologist at Goddard, said.

“We also need to know how the rocks have been reworked over time,” Neumann said.

Goossens and colleagues started with the same data used for an existing gravity model but put a new twist on it by coming up with a different constraint and applying it to obtain the new solution.

A constraint compensates for the fact that even the best data sets can’t capture every last detail.

Instead of taking the standard approach, known to those in the field as the Kaula constraint, the team created a constraint that considers the accurate measurements of Mars’s elevation changes, or topography.

“With this approach, we were able to squeeze out more information about the gravity field from the existing data sets,” said Goddard geophysicist Terence Sabaka.  (IANS)

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NASA’s instrument to measure Sun’s energy

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer -- Earth's natural sunscreen

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA's new instrument can measure incoming solar energy. Pixabay
  • NASA’s new instrument can measure Sun’s incoming energy
  • The instrument is called Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1)
  • This can help bring in an energy revolution in future

To continue long-term measurements of the Sun’s incoming energy, NASA has powered on a new instrument installed on the International Space Station (ISS).

Solar energy is one of the biggest energy sources in the world.

The instrument, Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), became fully operational with all instruments collecting science data as of this March, NASA said.

“TSIS-1 extends a long data record that helps us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth’s radiation budget, ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, and ecosystems, and the effects that solar variability has on the Earth system and climate change,” said Dong Wu, TSIS-1 project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. TSIS-1 studies the total amount of light energy emitted by the Sun using the Total Irradiance Monitor, one of two sensors onboard.

Also Read: Why is the Sun’s atmosphere much hotter than its surface

This sensor’s data will give scientists a better understanding of Earth’s primary energy supply and provide information to help improve models simulating the planet’s climate.

The second onboard sensor, called the Spectral Irradiance Monitor, measures how the Sun’s energy is distributed over the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions of light. Measuring the distribution of the Sun’s energy is important because each wavelength of light interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere differently.

Measuring solar energy is one big technological developement. Pixabay

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer — Earth’s natural sunscreen that protects life from harmful radiation.

“All systems are operating within their expected ranges,” said Peter Pilewskie, TSIS-1 lead scientist at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in the US. IANS